2018-01-02
Electricity to all: India racing to connect thousands of villages with power

Seventy years after independence, India is racing to connect thousands of villages with electricity as it looks to accelerate growth whose dividend is distributed to all.

The new year will see the government accelerate efforts to achieve the mammoth task of reaching power to more than a quarter of a billion people who lack access to electricity.

The year 2017 was an important year when the government unveiled Rs 16,320 crore Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (SAUBHAGYA) in September to provide electricity connection to around 4 crore families in rural and urban areas by March 2019.

However, the Power Ministry's internal target to achieve universal electrification under the Saubhagya scheme in December 2018.

Providing a connection would not help the poor people particularly in rural in view of their lower paying capacity and irregular incomes.

In order to boost electricity consumption particularly in rural areas under the Saubhagya scheme, the government has planned the installation of more and more pre-paid meters.

Power Minister R K Singh on several occasions talked about the installation of pre-paid as well as smart meters in the coming days for online generation, service and payment of electricity bills without human interface.

The objective of Saubhagya scheme is to provide last mile connectivity and electricity connections to all households in rural and urban areas.

Under the scheme free of cost electricity connections to all remaining un-electrified households with at least one deprivation on the basis of SECC (Socio-Economic Caste Economic) data in rural areas and economically poor households in urban areas would be given.

The others families would be charged a sum of Rs 500 per household in ten equal installments with the bill.

Besides those families located in remote and inaccessible areas would be provided with Solar Photovoltaic (SPV) based standalone systems with LED lights, fan, power plug etc. The beneficiaries will be identified on the basis of socioeconomic conditions using SECC 2011 data.

The effective implementation of UDAY scheme meant for the revival of debt-laden discoms, would also make difference in 2018.

"The distribution sector is set to attract the most attention, from household electrification to franchisee bids. We will see a new set of players entering. Unbundling of wires and supply can spur innovation in business models," Kameswara Rao Partner-energy & utilities PricewaterhouseCoopers said.

He said, "There's a huge expectation that the government and utilities run a proper pipeline of bids. In its absence, new capital and local supply chain can dry up."

He is of the view that utilities facing the impact of competition and loss of commercial load are likely to get their act together by investing in technology and younger workforce.

The Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY) for a financial and operational turnaround of discoms was launched in November 2015.

The scheme aims to provide the permanent solution to the legacy of debts of approximately Rs 4.3 lakh crore and address potential future losses. The scheme also envisages reform measures in all sectors - generation, transmission, distribution, coal, and energy efficiency. The scheme availability period expired on March 31, 2017.

Nagaland, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Dadra & Nagar Haveli & Daman & Diu signed MoUs with the Government of India under UDAY Scheme on November 20, 2017. With this, 27 states and four UTs have joined UDAY till date.

Under the Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) projects worth Rs 42,565 crore have been sanctioned in 32 States/UTs.

As on November 30, 2017, electrification in 1,24,219 villages and intensive electrification in 4,68,827 villages has been completed. Free electricity connections to 277.20 lakh BPL (below poverty line) households have been released.

As many as 18,452 census villages in the country out of total inhabited villages of 5,97,644 as per census 2011 were reported un-electrified by the states on April 1, 2015.

As on November 30, 2017, electrification in 15,183 villages has been completed and 1,052 villages have been reported un-inhabited.

The remaining 2,217 villages are expected to be electrified by May 1, 2018. These 2,217 villages are located in Arunachal Pradesh (1,069), Assam (214), Bihar (111), Chhattisgarh (176), Jammu & Kashmir (99), Jharkhand (176), Karnataka (8), Madhya Pradesh (34), Manipur (54), Meghalaya 50), Mizoram (11), Odisha (182) and Uttarakhand (33).

Similarly, IPDS (integrated power development scheme) aims to provide quality and reliable 24x7 power supply in the urban area.

So far, projects worth Rs 26,910 crore covering 3,616 towns have been sanctioned. State utilities have awarded the works worth Rs 23,448 crore.

The IT and technical intervention envisaged in IPDS scheme will not only ensure 24x7 power supply in the urban area but will also help in improvement in billing and collection efficiency which will ultimately result in the reduction in Aggregate Technical and Commercial (AT&C or distribution) losses.

Besides, the power ministry is about to bring hydropower policy which provides for incentives to the tune of Rs 16,000 crore for this segment.

Source- The Economic Times